Eisai tracking device keeps tabs on out-and-about dementia patients

Eisai has stepped up its beyond-the-pill efforts with a small, button-like sensor.

Seniors and dementia patients in Japan can go out more safely thanks to a new tracking tool from Eisai. The Japanese pharma, along with tech startup Mamorio, has developed a small, buttonlike sensor that can be attached or sewn into clothing. The Me-Mamorio can determine a person’s location via proximity to a corresponding app or fixed receivers set up in an area.

The beyond-the-pill initiative is part of Eisai’s commitment not only to dementia but to becoming a company “that changes society through creating medicines and providing solutions.” Eisai developed the Alzheimer’s drug Aricept and has a pipeline of dementia treatments, including BACE inhibitor E2609, which is in development with Biogen and now in phase 3 trial.

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“Recognizing the importance of activities that go beyond the framework of providing medicines, since 2008, we have been working on activities to support the building of communities that co-exist with dementia,” an Eisai spokesperson said in an email interview.

Eisai has signed agreements with local governments and medical associations to introduce the tracker in more than 110 locations in Japan. The spokesperson said Eisai does not have plans at this time to introduce Me-Mamorio outside the county.

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Aricept, which lost patent protection in 2010, is the world’s largest selling Alzheimer’s drug and at its peak raked in more than $3 billion in annual sales for Eisai and partner Pfizer. Pharma companies are investing heavily in research and trials to bring more Alzheimer’s and dementia treatments to market. However, the efforts have included high-profile misses such as Eli Lilly’s failed phase 3 trial for Alzheimer’s candidate solanezumab.